Poodle skirts are full skirts that were worn in the 1950s in combination with ankle socks and black-and-white saddle shoes. When you want to replicate the look for a nostalgic or vintage costume party, make the skirt yourself using authentic fabrics. The skirt has two layers as well as an applique poodle on the bottom front of the skirt.
Inner Layer Crinoline Petticoat
A crinoline petticoat serves as the inner layer of the poodle skirt. This layer gives the poodle skirt volume, making the applique visible rather than hiding it in the folds of the skirt's fabric. Crinoline petticoats are made from nylon netting that is gathered in several layers. Most poodle skirts fall just below the knee.
If you want to make a petticoat with less volume, you can use chiffon or organdy fabric. You can also find crinoline petticoats premade online or at auction sites. These petticoats are also used for square-dancing outfits. For less fullness opt for a prairie-type petticoat instead.
The skirt is the visible part of the skirt. Wool felt is the traditional fabric used to make the poodle skirt. Note that this is different from craft felt that you can buy in smaller sheets; wool felt is a higher quality material purchased by the yard.
Felt works best for the skirt layer because it is stiff and allows the skirt to flow away from the body, giving its silhouette more volume. As an alternative, you can use a lower quality felt that is a blend of wool and synthetic fibers.
Felt is easily damaged by steam, so use caution when ironing the skirt fabric.
The applique is the final touch to the poodle skirt. The poodle applique, like the skirt is made of a contrasting color felt. If you can, use the same type of felt you used to create the skirt for continuity. Using the same felt will also make laundering the skirt easier since both the skirt and applique will have the same care instructions.
Craft felt can be used for the applique in a pinch, though it does not have the same high quality as wool felt. You can also substitute a store-bought poodle patch, though it is not authentic to the 1950s style.